Hedgehog supporters in late plea to stop cull

Activists in an international campaign to save 5,000 hedgehogs threatened by a cull are to petition the Scottish Parliament next week. In a last-minute attempt to stop the killing by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), campaigners are pressing for evacuation of the animals.

SNH believes a cull by lethal injection is vital if wading birds on North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist are to be protected from the egg-scavenging animals, who have reduced some bird colonies by up to 60 per cent in 30 years.

Supporters from as far away as New Zealand, and celebrities including Sir Tim Rice and the Duchess of Hamilton, joined the protest. Ross Minett, of Advocates for Animals, said: "We are offering to resettle the hedgehogs. The end result is the same, clearing Uist."

Michael Scott, the deputy chairman of SNH who will present the agency's case to MSPs, said: "Studies have shown a mortality level of 46 per cent is likely among translocated animals." The agency says there is no overriding conservation imperative to justify relocation. Estimates put the cost of the cull at £70,000, and £170,000 for relocation. Animal-lovers have pledged £75,000 to help to pay for moving them to the mainland.

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